As part of your visa application you may need to pay a healthcare charge, called the ‘Immigration Health Surcharge’ (IHS), to the health services in the UK.
If you apply for your visa online you’ll pay the charge, and be assigned an IHS number, when you pay for your application. If you apply by post, you’ll need to pay the charge and be assigned an IHS number before you apply for a visa; your visa application form won’t be processed without it.
Some nationals may be exempt from the charge, but will still need to be assigned an IHS reference number.
If you’re a non-UK/EEA national applying for immigration permission to work, study or join your family in the UK for more than 6 months, you’ll need to pay the IHS surcharge and obtain an IHS reference number.
There are a few exceptions, which are listed on the gov.uk website.
In particular, if you’re a British Overseas Territory citizen who lives in the Falkland Islands or a national of Australia or New Zealand, you’re exempt from the surcharge, but you must still obtain an IHS reference number.
If you are applying for a Visitor visa, or Indefinite Leave to Remain, you won’t need to pay the IHS surcharge or have an IHS reference number. However, Visitor visa holders may be liable to pay for some types of NHS treatment.
If you’re applying for your visa online, you’ll be asked for IHS surcharge payment when you submit your application.
If you’re applying by post, you must make the payment before you submit or send your visa or immigration application; you can find out how to pay on the government website. Once payment is made, you’ll receive an IHS reference number for your visa application. Your visa won’t be considered if you don’t have a reference number.
Once you’ve paid, you’ll then be able to use the NHS. Bear in mind though that all UK residents pay for some services such as prescriptions, dental treatment and eye tests.
The IHS surcharge is currently £400 per person, per year of the visa. If any dependants, such as your spouse or partner and children are coming with you, you’ll also have to pay the IHS surcharge for them.
The exact amount you have to pay depends on how much leave you’re granted. You can calculate how much you’ll have to pay on the government website.
For more information on the NHS see the health section of this website.